9/21/2006

gifted programme that was not to be

The Gifted Programme or GEP came to an end today with poor enrolment and competition from better alternative programmes. The much hype programme for gifted children, in my view, fell too far short of its namesake. Where are the results of gifted personalities that were churned out from the programme except for some straight As which other schools are producing in great numbers. One would expect something of an Einstein, a renowned musician, a mathematician, someone who discovers why man can walk on air or a 12 year old professor. The programme produced none of these. Might as well. Maybe we need to grow our population to 8 million and with more foreign talent seeds, then we can revive a more gifted programme with double the chances of producing some genius.

4 comments:

jonathan said...

Your perception of the gifted education programme is far removed from the reality. Allow me to correct some of your glaring misconceptions:

1) The MOE never meant for GEP to produce true geniuses, prodigies or anything - as the government can't be bothered with leaving intellectual legacies in history. Take a look at the selection process. GEP students are merely selected from the top 1% of the cohort, not by an absolute threshold of raw intelligence. So if by some tough luck we have an entire cohort of goondoos, the top 1% are considered "gifted" even if they can't do 1+1=2. So you're criticising the programme from a wrong starting point - GEP never promised geniuses, merely the smarter ones among us.

2) Singapore doesn't do anything without the national goal of economic success in mind - GEP is no exception. The goal of our education system has always been to produce educated people who can drive the economy and fill our national coffers, not produce Nobel Prize-winning papers. A "small country" (in the words of the PAP) like ours is forced to place economic success and survival above any unpragmatic intellectual goals.

3) The reason why previously-mediocre schools are churning out straight A students in droves is because the true "elite" schools have withdrawn from the O level bell curve. Again, as in (1), O level results are not an indicator of raw intelligence, but of relative intelligence. The only reason why the students from second-fiddle schools can get straight As is because they now occupy the, perhaps, top 5% of the O level cohort previously dominated by elite schools. Statistics do the trick and make more people look good nowadays - the elite students give up O levels for an "elite" through-train programme and in addition, students from other schools get a chance to be straight A students. We are apparently becoming smarter, but we're not - it's just statistics at work.

redbean said...

thank you jonathan. that is a very fair comment from you. i believe, it may not be specifically, spoken, that a gifted programme with different ways of teaching for the best of the best, must have some higher objectives. probably there were hopes of some nobel prize winners among these chosen few.

i may be wrong. as for the hope of having a few geniuses among us, it is not a bad thing. unfortunately geniuses do not come too many too often. and sometimes they appeared in the oddest corner of the globe.

the top 1% of 3.6 mil is very different from the top 1% of 1 billion.

and you are very right to point out that the straigth As achieved by neighbourhood schools are a result of juggling statistics. no matter what were the grades, the top 1% or 10% of a cohort will still be the best among the cohort. and despite the difference in grades, the top 1% of the past actually had very average grades compare to today's grades, but not necessary inferior in abilities and intelligence.

good contribution.

jonathan said...

thanks :) I respect the way you're open to contributions too! I just find it sad though how Singapore manages to put a money value to every single thing - I remember Philip Yeo saying that he doesn't want to produce ASTAR scholars who are Nobel Laureates, instead he wants to help Singapore make money. In a few very short years, we are going to have an oversupply of science PhDs in Biopolis and the poor ASTAR scholars will find themselves out of demand... years of mugging gone to waste, and they'll realise that they are mere pawns in a national strategy obsessed with making money.

redbean said...

hi jonathan,

the A star students will be our export items. singaporeans are highly regarded and in high demands overseas.

as for being money crazy, not all are like that. look at all the volunteer drivers during the imf-worldbank meeting, $9 a day when the going rate is $30 to $50!

i am going to employ all of them to work for me. then i can pay myself as much as i want with the savings.